Tag Archives: every 10 records

10th Record(s): David Bowie “Aladdin Sane” and “Lodger”

Nice to group these two, they complement each other kinda well. Neither get played too frequently, since my hand usually gravitates to similar Bowie records in their respective period. I’ll listen to “Ziggy Stardust” instead of “Aladdin Sane” (but I guess you could argue “Hunky Dory” and maybe “Man Who Sold the World” as well), but “Lodger” does tend to a bit better since it’s from my favorite Bowie period and I’m always scared of overlistening to my favorite records. Looking at how infrequently these guys get played, that fear seems silly but I’d hate to be 70 years old and suddenly realizing that my copy of “Low” is unlistenable and a better copy will cost me a couple months of social security.

They also complement each other well since they show off the wide gap between the US issues of the RCA period and their respective UK issues. I groaned a little when I pulled the orange Dynaflex record out of the “Aladdin Sane,” cover. I’ve tried to upgrade those over the years, especially after Bowie died and I imagined Mrs. Fredoluv (who hails David Bowie as her favorite artist) might be pulling records out and playing them. I guess this one lingers, however, and I’m not in a big hurry to upgrade it — especially since Mrs. Fredoluv put on exactly NONE records after Bowie died. I’m just not into this record, it’s a bit all over the place, the Dynaflex sounds muffled and trashy, and I’d really rather put on another Bowie record instead. I do like the back-to-back appearance of “Panic in Detroit” and “Cracked Actor,” however, I think I’ve pulled this record out just to hear the latter before.

“Lodger” doesn’t suffer the same fate. It’s not a UK brown label (it’s a Canadian…grey label, maybe?), I guess it didn’t get upgraded either. But I don’t feel an urgent need to address it since it still sounds light years better than the US orange. Bowie and all the instruments sound like they’re floating in real space, super clear and deep. I felt like bouncing around the music room in response, I really enjoyed hearing these songs again.

Origin stories: Pretty sure the “Aladdin Sane” came from PDQ Records in Tucson. On top of the garbage sound, it’s not in the best shape either. I know I got “Lodger” from “Electric Fetus” in Minneapolis. Both great record stores, I miss the ability to get just about anything at the former and the ability to curate amazing hauls with ease at the latter.

“Aladdin Sane” Discogs link
Vinyl: VG-
Cover: VG+

“Lodger” Discogs link
Vinyl: NM-
Cover: VG+ (some seam and edge wear)

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10th Record(s): Black Star “Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star” and Kurtis Blow “S/T”

I’ve been having issues here. I’m doing my best to stay above water over Movie Meow-Meows, but even that’s been a challenge. I’ve been without a computer for nearly a month, thanks to a burnt out logic board and a couple botched repair efforts by Apple and their certified repair folks. So I’ve been relying on a loaner Windows laptop at the office; that computer has the computing power of a Gameboy, but I don’t really remember the Windows world too well. Screenshotting, editing, or anything beyond “reading e-mail” has felt like a Herculean chore to me. Because, you know, I’m a baby.

Anyway, I did burn through a couple records on my 10th Record project and just haven’t documented them. These actually go pretty well together since the Black Star record is so steeped in 80s hip-hop — not as far back as the Kurtis Blow stuff, but still, nearly twenty years since its release(!) it feels okay to lump that proto-hip-hop into Talib Kweli/Mos Def/Hi-Tek’s rear-view staring at the genre. I also make the rules here, so, there’s that. To be honest, I kinda feel like the Kurtis Blow album sounded a bit better than Black Star. Is that crazy to say? I mean, “MD&TKaBS” is probably deservedly on every list of the top 20-50-100 albums of hip-hop that anyone would ever make. I still get chills when I hear Talib’s opening rap on “Definition” (a single that’s probably on any list of the top 10-20 songs of hip-hop?), but that song also exposes the weakness here for me: my system just doesn’t handle bassy hip-hop very well.

“Definition” has a real boom to it, it sounds like a sound system is driving down the street dropping that reggae groove as it goes by, but I can’t get that on my speakers. Some of it is probably placement. I’m using stand speakers as bookshelf speakers, and there’s not enough space around the speaker to let those soundwaves do what the speakers are designed to do. But I’m skeptical that they could handle the bass anyway, they’re all science-fictiony and everything, but I just don’t know how you process that wide bottom without a woofer of some sort. A lot of my hip-hop records (and reggae for that matter) just don’t have the same full range that I get in my car or living room as a result. “Kurtis Blow” doesn’t dip into those ranges, and it’s also a record I’m not too familiar with. The rapping is pretty stereotypical early 80s/late 70s coupling, and it’s hard to tell where the original music is since you’ve heard this album’s music sampled over and over again for 35 years — there’s probably not a single sample in this blend of funky disco, which made it more fun for me to dance around to. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to “Kurtis Blow,” just dismissing it as the album that has “The Breaks,” but it’s actually a blast. Not all tracks land … but then you can say the same about Black Star as well!

Origin Stories: I’m pretty sure the Kurtis Blow album came from a thrift store, it’s definitely a record I’ve seen in thrift store/25-cent bins for years and years. My copy still has the shrink, and is in perfect condition (maybe this was the first time it was ever listened to?). I can’t say the same about the Black Star LP. I’m the only owner on that one, but I’ve listened to it a bunch. Even worse, the labels still have some stickers I put on them when I was taking DJ lessons — no scratches or anything, but they’ve just had a lot of love. Probably still worth 50x more than the Kurtis Blow…

Black Star Discogs Link
Vinyl: VG+
Cover: NM-

Kurtis Blow Discogs Link
Vinyl: NM-
Cover: NM

 

10th Record: Billo’s Caracas Boys “Fin De Año”

billo

Ah, finally getting into some real records now, even if this is an odd inclusion! For those following my “Every 10 Records” listening and documenting of my vinyl collection, it’s gotten a bit sluggish due to some early run-ins with bad pressings and bad music. I was happy to see my finger landing on Billo’s as I counted to my 80th LP, and for a split second I thought about pulling a different album by Billo’s just to make it a little less weird. Most of my collection is filed alphabetically first, then chronologically within the artist’s discography, but I knew that there’s so little info on any of these particular records that any chronological arrangement I’d done was likely made up of guesswork. Still, I kept things honest and pulled this out to listen.

I got turned onto Billo’s Caracas Boys by chance a few years ago — I was chatting with a friend about what we were listening to at work, and he’d been churning through a few YouTube albums and had landed on Billo’s as a result. He dug it, and I quickly did as well! I made a point of grabbing a few LPs by Billo’s on eBay (this was before I knew about better record marketplaces), but they were really pretty hard to come by. “Fin De Año” is actually one of the LPs that pops up most frequently, surprisingly enough, so it made itself onto my shelves very quickly.

I can’t find much online about Billo’s Caracas Boys or their discography. Yet they were super prolific and most of their stuff is available on streaming services. But I’d like to learn more since their sound is a good mix of several things. The bandleader was born in the Dominican Republic, got famous in Venezuela and ended up in pre-Castro Cuba for a bit before returning to Venezuela. That transiency across Latin America shows up in the songs — there’s a lot of merengue for sure, but I feel like I see salsa/cumbia/rhumba/and flamenco dancing through the orchestra as well. The music is heavier on the pop than the rhythms, so maybe that’s why it feels a bit more universal. Regardless, I love listening to it even if it’s not quite as forceful as some other latin dance records.

What makes this record a bit odd is that it really is an “end of the year” record, as the title states! To non-Spanish speakers, that’s probably meaningless until you get to songs like “Cascabel” — a Spanish language “Jingle Bells.” Still, I played this record while my family was doing their thing and no one seemed to notice — my son danced a bit to some of the songs, but to my chagrin no one had any Christmas tunes lodged in their head. There are better Billo’s albums in my collection, we’ll see when I get to them in this game…

Discogs link
Vinyl: VG- (pretty worn, no skips or pops but surface noise throughout)
Cover: VG-

 

10th Record: Chuck Berry “Johnny B Goode”

berry

Hmph. I’m getting a bit frustrated with this 10th Record project. Does my collection just suck? Do I need to do more digging and purchasing, inflate my collection a bit more to make sure that there’s more outta sight records to support endeavors like this?

I’ll combine my origin story on this with my write-up. I had pretty much overlooked Chuck Berry for most of my life; I thought I knew his songs, I knew covers of his songs, and I’d heard combinations of those two float in and out of commercials and movies in perpetuity. I didn’t really feel like there was much to explore there until I worked at a record shop where a co-worker frequently put on Berry’s “The Great 28” compilation, and I was able to push past those immediate hits and get into the juicier stuff. I loved the raw rock and roll sound and the great songwriting, there were so many great songs to discover. As I got deeper into the Beatles/Kinks/Rolling Stones catalogs, the Berry songs would keep bubbling up, helping me pay attention to not only those songs but the other covers that would fill in the gaps on those early LPs. While I’d buy my own copy of, say, a Larry Williams compilation inspired by those listens, I never got “The Great 28” since it was basically always around when I needed it.

Flashing forward many years later, when I pulled out my turntable and decided to rediscover music through a more intimate listening, I made a quick list of albums I knew I still needed to get in order to really make that listening sparkle. That list, sadly soon abandoned, had “The Great 28” on it, for sure. It wasn’t too long after that I saw a friend posting some records he was dumping, and seeing this record in the batch I was happy to get at least partially towards having some quality Chuck Berry in my collection. I wasn’t being very mindful at that point, and didn’t really scrutinize what was coming into my shelves. Oops!

Another 10th Record, and another record marred by fake stereo! This one’s pretty difficult to listen to, there’s so much echo that it sounds like Chuck Berry is recording in the shower (har-har) and the top and bottom ranges are just absolutely missing any definition. There’s just a big blur of bass and drum mess and no real guitar energy to speak of. I still haven’t replaced it with a better Chuck Berry album, but I’m sure I’ll find one soon.

This cheap reissue was put out by Pickwick, so the kid who grew up listening to Pickwick children’s  (Mr. Pickwick!) and cheap reissue albums definitely felt my sore ears soothed a teeny bit by that little fragment of nostalgia. Otherwise, this should go in a garbage bin.

Discogs link
Vinyl: VG+
Cover: VG+

10th Record: The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

FullSizeRender-6I admit that this endeavor seems a lot less fun if the old, forgotten records I’m digging out are widely celebrated releases from some of the most recognized bands of all time … I’m assuming that once we get through the “Bea-” section, we’ll get back to more esoterica and discovery. In the meantime?

I think this was my first Beatles album. It was definitely among the first 4 CDs I got when I got my first CD player, and this LP is from around the same time, maybe a year or so later. I overplayed this album since those were the days when I had less options to throw on, and as a result I just never really put it on today or even celebrate it mentally the way I would, say, “Pet Sounds” or “Revolver.” When I do, I’m always pretty happy to hang out with an old friend; there’s nothing new or clever I’m going to be able to say about this album, so I’ll keep it brief. This is the first US mono release, and it’s in pretty good shape. No visual marks or scratches, but it’s gotten a lot of plays — plenty of surface noise in the quiet spots, occasional pops but overall a really great sounding record! Done?

Origin story: I found this at a thrift store near my childhood house. It was much easier to thrift shop records back then, I always found pretty good stuff without even trying to hard. I found my first Ramones record at the same shop, “Revolver,” Parliament…a wide range of cool stuff that would feel like a huge score if you came across it in a thrift bin today. It makes me a little surprised that the record is in such good shape (especially since I can’t imagine teenage Fredoluv took great care of his records either) all these years later.

Discogs link
Vinyl: VG/VG+ (visually pretty tight, but on play it sounds more VG)
Cover: G+ (splitting, discoloring, staining, etc. A fun time was had by all!)

10th Record: Beach Boys “Dance Dance Dance”

FullSizeRender-3Uh oh… Between that last Bauhaus record and this Beach Boys pressing, I’m having some slight doubts about this project. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Beach Boys like crazy — they’re one of my favorite groups and covered well enough in my collection that I wouldn’t be surprised to hit another one as the next 10th record. But this duophonic pressing is really hard to sit through.

“Today” was a definite landmark in my deepening appreciation of the Beach Boys in my 20s. I’d listened to them a bunch as a wee (some of my first LPs were the 80s reissues of “Little Deuce Coupe” and “Live” as well as the “Endless Summer”/”Spirit of America”/”Good Vibrations” compilations), liked “Pet Sounds” from my teens, but hadn’t really dug very deep into my appreciation. A friend recommended “Today,” and that re-introduction led to heavy consumption of all the 90s 2-fer CD reissues and a thorough entrenchment into the history and folklore of Brian Wilson in general — they quickly went from a band I liked to one of my all-time favorites. I still have a soft spot for “Today,” as a result, and have a few copies of this record in an effort to get something that sounds somewhat decent — that’s a challenge for Beach Boys vinyl, in general.

I know the 80s Capitol green label vinyl reissues are appreciated for their overall sound, so I scoop them up when I see them in used bins. That was the case here, but I didn’t note the Duophonic marking while doing so. This album was originally released mono, as was most of the BB’s early-to-mid canon was (with some early exceptions, but hey, grab that info somewhere else), with Capitol creating fake stereo versions to satisfy the new stereo consumers. Duophonic was one of those fake stereo processes, and the result here is pretty bad. I had a hard time not taking off the LP right away, and ended up doing other things to help me suffer through it. They basically processed two different mono signals with some time delay and echo that makes it sound muffled and echo-y and weird. Boo to that, and boo to this record! I should probably dump this one, but unlike the Bauhaus record reviewed previously, this one would have little to no value.

Origin: I found this in an odd record shop in Mound, MN. They were having real estate issues and needed to either liquidate their inventory/go out of business/or get cash to buy the building they were in; they had posted some deep sales notices on Craigslist that made me journey out to see what they had. The shop was wedged in behind a vacuum repair shop:

I dug out a few records, including this cheapy. It grabbed my attention because of the odd “Today” retitling, and I was excited enough to have another 80s green label before I really realized what I’d done. Oh well! The record store ended up surviving (they raised enough $$ to finance their building), and I’d like to visit again someday…

Discogs link
Vinyl: NM-
Cover: NM-

10th Record: Bauhaus “In the Flat Field”

FullSizeRender-2I liked Bauhaus okay in high school — I think they hit a cross-section of “mystery” and “other” that made them seem a bit cooler than their music had probably earned. I guess I’m tipping my hand a bit, this listening didn’t really go very well.

I first became aware of the band when I saw the notebook doodling of some older kids and asked them about it. Looking back on those doodles, they were a little weird — I remember a few attempts at the Fang logo, as well as a meticulous recreation of the Bauhaus logo. I just can’t imagine there being a lot of crossover appreciation of the East Bay hardcore band and the British goth pioneers, but there was that day. Anyway, the guy who answered was kind of a brat about it, telling me that if I really wanted to learn about Bauhaus to “read Tom Wolfe’s ‘From Bauhaus to Our House.” So, I did! At least partially, I mean, I figured it must be a cool book and gave it a pretty fair shake (especially considering my then naive understanding of international style and the intentions to impact socioeconomic conditions through its architecture). It took me another decade to realize that the guy who made that recommendation was just being a dillhole.

Anyway, I gave a similar shake to Bauhaus. At some point I had a few albums and 12″ singles, but it appears this is all that’s left a couple decades later. Aside from their monster smash “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” I’m not sure that I really need to hear anything more for the next few decades either. It’s not a knock against goth music in general, there are still a few albums (i.e. the first Sisters of Mercy albums, early Cure, Joy Division, probably a teeny bit more) I actively listen to, but I just don’t find a lot of appeal to the Bauhaus sound. Listening to it now, I can appreciate the wild energy, the chaotic punk leanings on this album that push it more towards Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” than JD’s “Closer,” but the songwriting is just flat and unrewarding. I don’t need a “pop” goth record (though, hey, someone should make one!), but this album is just dirge and crash and not a lot of hook and charm. Not something you’d put on before washing a tub of dishes or anything… I made it through, but I found myself thinking about pruning my record collection while I did. Why not sell albums like this that I’ll likely never put on the player again?

Origin: This is the Italian release of the LP, which helps me pinpoint where I bought it. I bought a lot of music at a tiny not-so-great used LP store in Tucson when I was in high school; a friend worked there, so it was always worth a visit to hear his recommendations and see what he could point me to in the stacks. I’d asked him to tape some Bauhaus tracks for me (which he did, while also nudging me towards better things in that universe, like PiL’s “Second Edition”), so it made sense that he’d let me know that LP had come into the shop. For some reason a lot of the better things I purchased at that store were imports, especially from Italy — I wonder who that Italian connection was that was dumping their early 80s record collection at that tiny store? I’m surprised to hear how clean the LP is, but maybe I didn’t listen to it that much in high school.

Discogs link
Vinyl: VG++
Cover: VG (Some wear to the edges)